Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Magic Numbers @ Cecil Sharp House, London

5 August 2005

Seemingly appearing from nowhere, London based quartet The Magic Numbers have gone on to become one of the bigger success stories of 2005.

Their 60’s influenced, melody filled numbers have become impossible to avoid of late, and have earned them a large, devoted fan base – hype has been minimal, proof indeed that you can make it to the top without heavy backing from the press.

A limited edition 7″ single, Hymn For Her, appeared at the end of last year, before a joint headlining tour with Hal and a guest appearance on the latest Chemical Brothers album started turning heads. Then came Forever Lost, a majestic pop single that preceded their debut album (itself rather fine), and a series of summer festival appearances.

The rest is certainly history – before they knew it, they were one of the most talked about bands of the year, even picking up a Mercury prize nomination along the way.

Tonight, still a little jetlagged having just returned from Japan, they informed us, they played a low key homecoming show at Cecil Sharp House, a small, intimate venue near Regent’s Park that with its wooden floors and large mural decorating the wall, looked very much like your average primary school assembly hall.

With no support act, The Numbers took to the low stage (unless you were standing at the front, it was difficult to see much more than their heads) at around half past nine, and proceeded to play a truly memorable set that included highlights from their debut album, slightly rarer tracks, and a cover of Beyonce‘s Crazy In Love – “We’re a bit worried about how this might turn out, but we’re all friends here,” declared lead singer Romeo Stodart before attempting to mimic everyone’s favourite pop diva. Certainly, the crowd was a remarkably friendly one, helping the band with the words before a huge ovation brought the experiment to a close.

Their own hits went down a treat, too – Forever Lost appeared early on, and witnessed the crowd enthusiastically singing the chorus back to them. New single Love Me Like You pushed the bouncing floorboards to their limit, with many in the venue losing control of their hips. The band, Romeo in particular, looked genuinely pleased to be there, unable to wipe the large grins off their faces and thanking the crowd for their support after most songs.

In a world where a lot of groups appear jaded by the rigours of vast and intensive touring, to see this was hugely refreshing. When the crowd sung back to them, it seemed only to inspire them to make a more beautiful noise.

What was noticeable was how concisely songs were executed and how clear everything sounded – Romeo’s tender vocals sounded ultra crisp through the PA, and where the harmonies may at times sound a little flat on record, sounded remarkably wholesome here, not least on I See You, You See Me (Which also saw backing vocalist Angela Gannon wow the audience with some impressive singing) and set closer Wheels On Fire, which were both highpoints of the evening.

This was a fantastic display of simple and utterly charming pop songs that indicate this band will be soundtracking many a summer to come. If the Mercury award does eventually go to them in September, it couldn’t go to a nicer bunch of people. God bless their good souls.

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More on The Magic Numbers
The Magic Numbers – Alias
This Music Made Me: The Magic Numbers
The Magic Numbers – The Runaway
The Magic Numbers @ Hammersmith Apollo, London
The Magic Numbers – Those The Brokes